US: Vermont Teens Caught Vaping Will Not be Suspended From School

Instead of being suspended from school, high-schoolers in Vermont who are caught using e-cigarettes will be asked to attend quit vaping programmes.

The American Lung Association has just launched a scholarship fund for its Vape-Free Schools Initiative. Many public health experts have long been insisting that a forbidding stance which includes school suspensions does not work, and that an educational approach should be more effective.

Meanwhile, another Vermont initiative addressing youth risky behavior was launched last year. The Getting to Y (GTY) program, was given permission to be implemented in school districts across the U.S.

The Getting to Y program
The students are encouraged to brainstorm and come up with solutions to address some issues revealed by their  school’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
The GTY program has received a “Best Practice” national designation by the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, while the Vermont Department of Health has recognized the program as an “Evidence-based Practice.” A panel of public health and child and adolescent health experts, award the title to programs “that have been extensively evaluated and proven effective.”

“These recognitions came after thorough review of the theoretical underpinnings, practice implementation, and outcome data of GTY and are strong affirmations of the impact and importance of the program in promoting the health and well-being of young people,” said Sharon Koller, GTY Coordinator.

Teens helped by their peers
The GTY program brings teens together via middle and high school groups, and holds workshops in which the students evaluate data from their school’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Then they are encouraged to brainstorm and come up with solutions to address some of the issues revealed by the survey.

Within the groups, the students are supported by adults who guide them and direct them to resources which can aid growth in challenging areas, so that the issues can be effectively tackled whilst considering both perspectives. “I think students are often the people being acted upon in ways they can oftentimes not have their voice heard,” said Townes DeGroot, a U-32 junior. “I think this is a really great opportunity for students to express what their needs are and their unique and important ideas on how to address them.”